Northern Ireland KKK gang probe - Dublin fancy dress firm to help police investigation
A costume company in Dublin that sold Ku Klux Klan outfits identical to those worn by a group linked to a hate crime in Newtownards have said they will assist police.
Costumesinireland.ie sold the "satire" costumes of the US hate group for €21 (£18.50) on its website, but pulled the product after being contacted by the Belfast Telegraph.
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The robes are covered with fake blood and have the exact same markings as those seen by the gang in Newtownards who posed for photos outside an Islamic prayer centre on Saturday, October 27.
It remains unclear if the group of at least nine men bought the offensive outfits from the Dublin retailer.
The company distanced itself from the controversy when asked about the public outrage the images caused.
"This costume obviously is to laugh, ridicule and condemn this organisation," it said.
"It's a satire costume. We sell this costume in other countries and we think that everybody understands this costume is not real, it has fake blood too."
It denied the firm could be held responsible for any offence caused.
"Imagine if tomorrow one person buys a mask and (robs) a bank with this mask; who is responsible?" it asked.
It went on to condemn "this horrible and deplorable attack", and said it was o longer selling the costumes in Ireland.
"Our company don't have the exclusivity to sell this product, because we are sellers only, not manufacturers," they said.
"We can't know 100 per cent if the costumes are from us but we would like to help in this investigation with the police," the company added.
"We can't ignore a racist attack".
The PSNI says it is investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Chief Constable George Hamilton promised to investigate and report the "disgusting and distasteful" crime.